Veritas Vision of Utility Computing

The storage-management company will table its model for provisioning IT resources at this week's Veritas Vision show, reports Storage Supersite Editor David Morgenstern.

Veritas Software on Monday will stake a claim beyond storage management. Way beyond. At its annual user conference, the company will present its model for provisioning IT resources—along with a roadmap for the software that will accomplish the tasks.

In addition to the architecture announcements, attendees at this weeks Veritas Vision 2003 in Las Vegas will receive details of a new compatibility-qualification program dubbed Veritas Enabled (the expansion of the companys channel partnerships) and the Veritas Architect Network (an online support community).

To the assembled throng of a thousand or so customers and partners, Veritas will present its version of utility computing. This IT model—pitched by IBM and Hewlett-Packard, among others—compares computing services to electrical-power companies (not to computer utility software, as your search engine might believe). All of these functions expand the scope of Veritas software from storage management, backup, archive and recovery to the application level.

In short, the utility model envisions a set of software-management tools that can monitor application performance and then provision hardware resources automatically to meet changing demands as well as optimize performance dynamically. Of course, this plan offers some potential for staffing reductions—a likely winner in any sales pitch to upper management.

However, utility computing takes its metaphor to heart, even finding a way to bring in the equivalent of the gas or water meter. "In the past, a CIO was just responsible for the pipes; now, a CIO is responsible for the water in those pipes," Veritas Executive Vice President of Product Operations Mark Bregman told the Storage Supersite. "Businesses are holding CIOs accountable for overall efficiency—they must put in metering for usage."

Veritas will call this software the Service Manager; the company said it is expected by the end of the year. The tools, currently in beta, will track the services delivered, calculate the expense and then send out the bill. The company said the service levels and charges will be "calculated from a single source to minimize disputes over charge-back levels."

Right. Or at least it will give department heads a single address to complain about the charges.

The glue that holds all this together stems from a couple of corporate acquisitions Veritas announced late last year. For a total tag of $599 million, the company purchased Precise Software Solutions, offering application-level management tools, and Jareva Technologies, a developer of server automation tools.

The Veritas Service Manager will integrate these technologies. For example, the Precise code could uncover performance problems on the end-user side ("before the end user notices," according to a Veritas release) and then notify the Jareva technology to bring additional server resources online automatically. Finally, the usual Veritas Cluster Server manager will take over the storage admin.

Of course, the big difference in Veritas model for utility computing is its independence from a particular hardware platform. The software architecture will operate within a heterogeneous hardware environment, allowing companies to leverage their current infrastructure rather than outsourcing IT services.

In the current, lackluster economic climate, this last capability should be a strong incentive for some CIOs, alongside the solid appeal of the leading Veritas brand.

However, Veritas may get an additional boost from a recent political trend. With top executives making "perp walks" on the nightly news, and continuing pressure for legal accountability of data records, the reliability of a computing infrastructure isnt just a professional concern anymore. Its personal.

David Morgenstern is a longtime reporter of the storage industry as well as a veteran of the dotcom boom in the storage-rich fields of professional content creation and digital video.